The Apple Pencil in Action

Using the Apple Pencil

After having to wait a week before I actually got the pencil in my hands following my order of the iPad Pro and also the Apple Pencil, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it at first. Did I need to charge it up? Did I need to go to settings to connect to the iPad? Then I remembered reading somewhere, the first thing to do is to plug into the iPad lightning port and the connection will be taken care of automatically. In any case, I was already aware that this is the way to charge the Apple Pencil. It’s not necessary to charge it up in this way very often, as giving it only 15 seconds of plugged in time will give it 30 minutes of usage. It’s easy enough to plug it in every now and again, go off and make a cup of tea and it will give you enough for a good session of drawing with your iPad Pro. The lightning connector at the end of pencil is covered by a magnetic cover which seems to be held on securely enough for general usage. It’s all looking good for going Post PC with the iPad Pro.

At the top of the post check out the Free Book about iPad Art Apps.

Palm rejection while using the Apple Pencil

To get good quality lines and shapes when you’re drawing, you do need to put your palm onto the iPad as it helps to steady the hand. Just the same as if you are painting and using a mahl stick (a small soft pad on the end a stick allowing you to steady your hand when you have a paintbrush and wet paint on the canvas.) I can report that the palm rejection software works flawlessly. When you are using the Apple Pencil and resting the side of your hand on the screen you don’t get any extra unwanted marks on your drawing. This makes it very comfortable to do precision work as you are drawing your lines. It’s a little bit like magic because you put your hand onto the screen first before the Apple Pencil touches the screen and you still don’t get unwanted lines. It is actually very impressive technology.

Drawing on the iPad

Comparisons with the Wacom Creative Stylus


I have both version 1 and version 2 of the Wacom creative stylus and they are both good quality. Version 1 has a larger round soft tip while version 2 as the hard small point. Version 1 feels better to draw with as the softer tip moves more smoothly on the screen, while version 2 feels a little bit harder and more difficult to control. The Apple Pencil somehow or other has the harder tip like version 2 of the Wacom, yet still feels smooth and controllable on the screen. You don’t get the harsh tap and movement of the end of the tip with the Apple Pencil as you do with the Wacom stylus. The difference in quality between the two in terms of the quality of the lines you get, is huge. The Apple Pencil is a joy to use in comparison. With the Wacom devices there is supposed to be pressure sensitivity, but that comes down to how well it is implemented in the various iPad drawing and painting applications. I haven’t seen much evidence of this pressure sensitivity and integration as yet. The Apple Pencil, on the other hand is well supported in Procreate and is certain to be implemented in all of the best iPad drawing applications. In Paper by 53 when you use the pen tool it is very easy to control the width of the line you’re drawing. Press a little bit harder to get a wider or thicker line. With the pencil tool in that application when you press harder the line is darker. This means if you want to do some shading in a small area, you can press lighter or harder to get the graduations of tone or colour. For larger areas of shading you can draw with the Apple Pencil at a low angle. Pixelmator for iPad hasn’t yet been updated for the Apple Pencil, but I am sure it will be quite soon. The application Concepts which is a vector style of application but feels like a bitmap editor at times has been updated to work well with the Apple pencil. Concepts is a marvellous application and I highly recommend it for iPad design and drawing work. I will also be looking forward to seeing an upgrade to the application ArtRage as soon as they can do it. With the application Tayasui Sketch you can use the Apple Pencil, but it hasn’t been well implemented as yet. There is a noticeable lag between the pointer of the Apple Pencil and the line you’re drawing. I’m sure it will get better in time as these applications get upgraded, but for the moment the best application for the Apple Pencil in my opinion is Procreate. See the article on iColorama on the iPad.

IMG 2854

The Apple Pencil in The hand

The body of the pencil feels slightly slippery. Despite that, it still feels good in the hand and easy to control as you draw. The balance of the Apple Pencil is just perfect for the length of it. The length of the Apple Pencil is a little longer than your usual stylus to use on an iPad. It doesn’t take too long to get that feeling of being totally comfortable with drawing with the device. When using Procreate and using one of the painting brushes you’ll see an outline of the shape of the brush on the screen as you use it. Not only that, you get visual feedback showing you the effect of the pressure sensitivity. This makes it very easy to get used to the amount of pressure you need to apply with the Apple pencil, so you can get a smooth transition from light to dark. After a couple of days of using the Apple Pencil I can safely say that I’m in love and I want to do more and more drawing with the perfect combination of iPad Pro and Apple Pencil.

Have a look at Photo Art with Affinity Photo on Mac20Q

Posted in Apple Pencil.

Going Post–PC with the iPad Pro

I won’t be going completely without using desktop computers. This is the case because I do need to use my Mac for dictation. Dragon for Mac is the bees knees when it comes to dictation. I can do Siri dictation on the iPad and I prefer to do that, than use the keyboard for typing. Not bad but not as accurate as Dragon. It’s not that I don’t like the iPad keyboard for typing, because with predictive text it can be as quick as or even faster than a physical keyboard. When you only need to do one tap to put in a long word or even do many long words one after the other, you just have to appreciate how good it is. Despite all of this, I now have my hands on a lovely iPad Pro.

Drawing and painting on the iPad

IPad Pro Apple PencilOne of my main reasons to get the iPad Pro is for digital drawing and painting and it seems that the Apple Pencil will be marvellous for the job. When I finally get the Apple pencil, that is. There is a wait of one or two weeks to get this product from Apple and I can’t believe that they didn’t have enough made for the launch of the iPad Pro. I am an artist and I used to be an art teacher and despite that I’m not brilliant at drawing these days. I’m quite out of practice after spending many years doing other things and not drawing much at all. I’m keen to get back into drawing again. I have been using a couple of different stylus with my previous iPad and I have both versions of the Wacom creative stylus. One has the usual rubbery end and the other has the harder point. The new Apple Pencil is more like the second version which has the harder end for drawing with. I find that one is quite clicky and hard on the surface when drawing and some of the applications don’t support it. The beauty of the Apple Pencil is, it is specifically made for the job. There is extra technology and hardware implementation on the iPad screen itself. This means that there is very little lag from where the drawing point is, to where the line appears on the screen. I expect this will also stop that thing happening in some applications on previous iPad apps where you would draw a line that was supposed to be straight and it would end up being kind of wavy. I would love to get my hands on an Apple Pencil now to try out. I should have called into the Barcelona Apple store on Saturday as I was passing.

Hitting the iPad Pro hard for the next month

I have promised myself that apart from the time I need to spend dictating text into Dragon dictate on the Mac I’ll spend has much time as possible using the iPad Pro. I’d like to see if I could transition to the small mobile device, despite it being quite a bit larger than the previous version. It should work out a lot easier having the ability to run two apps side-by-side on the screen. Each app being the same size as they used to be on the iPad Air 2. It makes it very easy to do a copy and paste from one application to another. I expect that one day we will be able to do a drag and drop in between two applications. Although, who knows what version of the operating system for iOS it will be when that will becomes available. The screen for the iPad Pro is lovely and a very high resolution which makes it a delight to work with. A truly immersive experience when using the iPad Pro. That is a very good thing when you use art applications. Keeps you in the zone and makes it more personal for your creativity.

My need to get a protective cover is holding me back

Despite the fact that the devices well-balanced and weighted and feels good to hold and use , it does feel a little bit slippery and precarious in my hand. I have become used to having my iPads in a decent protective cover. I prefer to have one that will protect the back as well as the front. I also like the smart covers that turn the screen off using the magnet sensors when you close it. I chose a cover from Amazon for the magnificent price of €15 rather than laying out the ridiculous amount of money for an Apple smart cover. As I was saying about my preference for dictation, I don’t have too much need for a keyboard. I’m not hankering after getting the Logitech Create keyboard for the iPad Pro or the Apple iPad Pro keyboard. I might still try one out though when I see one in the Apple Store on my next visit.

Logi CREATE Keyboard Case for iPad Pro

Other Mac apps I’ll need to use.


I do have an application on the iPad that will create e-books and it does a fairly good job of it. However, Book Creator doesn’t do the iBooks that I’ll need to use iBooks Author for. It’ll be interesting to find out which are the other OS X applications that I just can’t do without. There are occasions when all need to do some high-level photo editing and for that it’s still going to be better to use Affinity Photo and maybe I’ll have stick with that and Affinity Designer. I used Topaz Impression the other day also to modify a photo in a creative way. Seems like I might have to use the Mac for quite a few things…. Still, I’ll try to get as much use out of the iPad Pro. I’ll pick it up first and only when I really have to switch to the Mac will I change over.

Posted in iPad.

Photo Art with Affinity Photo, iColorama and Topaz Impression.

Working through the Applications

The beginning of story for creating these photo art images is taking the photographs using my Sony NEX 6 mirrorless camera onto different weekend photo trips. The first of these weekends was a visit to Ireland to go and see my son and grandson and the first photograph I used in this Photo art came from a walk in the Deerpark Forest in Virginia. Before I got back home to Catalonia I had worked on a couple of the photos in iColorama on my iPad. It’s a great way to spend the time on the aeroplane and takes your mind off the screaming kids at the other end of the plane. In the iColorama application I used one of the presets within the effect area called Flat. What this effect does is to turn the whole image into small very colourful shapes which looks nothing like the image it started with, unless you reduce the opacity. Bringing the opacity down from 100% to around 20 to 25% gives you a pleasant looking image with pastel colours. Lately, one of the things I like to do with these images is to put it into another affect called Flow and use the various controls to change it to just the way I want it to look.

Fish basket Bridge colour liquid lines

The image above is using the effect called Liquid Lines – Background of the image was made in iColorama.

The second part of the story is a trip to the harbour to take more pictures of the equipment on the fishing vessels. I look for patterns and shapes in the hydraulic machinery, the nets and fishing equipment. When I got back home from the harbour I worked with some of the images I’d imported into Photos Application on my Mac. I have a variety of applications from the developer Macphun and one of them I use quite often is called Intensify Pro. This application has a wide range of effects, settings and presets going from basic photo enhancement to the Strong and dramatic effects With this photo I took of a part of an aluminium fishing basket, I just gave it some basic enhancement to jazz up the photo. I made it sharper and I made the shapes stand out better by adding some structure.

Photo montage directly after work in Affinity Photo – No Effects applied

Fish basket Landscape mix 1

Using Affinity Photo

What I wanted to do was to take two photos and merge them together. The basic idea was to take an image that was metal and ropes with a little bit of grunge and remove the background so I could replace it with a contrasting type of image. I’m still getting used to the controls of the application Affinity Photo and so I had to work out the best way to delete the background. There was one large area of background to remove which was going to be fairly easy using the eraser tool, at least until I got to the edges. Then there were a few small areas that were going to require fairly detailed working. So I needed some practice using the selection tools in Affinity Photo. I used the Flood Select Tool, Brush Select tool and the Freehand Select Tool. The tool with the brush will select areas of colour and I found it too easy to select sections I didn’t want to have selected. This was because the colours next to the areas I actually wanted were not dissimilar enough. When I tried to deselect the areas I didn’t want, it would also deselect other areas I wanted to keep. It got annoying very quickly. It was easier to use the freehand selection tool and especially so, where I was working with straight lines. I also found I could get more control by zooming in much closer to my image and changing the size of the selection brush. The Flood selection tool gives you a crosshair to start your selection area. Then you drag across the image and you can see where has been selected with the lines of marching ants. You just have to keep sliding across the image until it selects too much, back off a little bit to deselect that extra part and then let go. You then move the cursor to another area that needs to be selected and do the same again adding to the full selection. It works pretty well and only needs a little bit of tidying up with the detail work with the brush selection tool to finish. The other problem was sometimes I moved the selection instead of adding or subtracting to it. You have to be careful where you start with the tool.

Detailed selection work in Affinity Photo

With all of the basic selection done, all you need to do is to use the eraser tool and delete what you don’t want. I found it was then necessary to go into some of the edges of the parts of the image I was keeping and tidy thing up. There was a little bit of chromatic edging, this is where you get a blue edge around some parts of the image. Depends on the lens on the camera and the light of the day. I used the selection tools to grab these bits of blue and then to erase them. In a few parts of the selected image the edge was rough and I could see the squares of the pixels. I found that the best way to clear this up, was to use the blur tool at a medium opacity. I ran this tool along all of the edges and it ended up looking pretty good at the finish. When I had zoomed out of the close-up view, the overall effect was still sharp enough.

Adding the background layer in Affinity Photo

The application Affinity Photo which is a fantastic Photoshop alternative at a much lower price, has the layering you’d expect from a top-class photo manipulation app. It was easy to bring in another photograph to put on a layer lower than the one I was working on so it would show through on all the places where I had deleted in the top photo. I experimented with a few different images below the metal fishing basket picture and exported the results out as JPEG files.

One Step Beyond With Topaz Impression.

Topaz have a number of applications for manipulating your photos. Topaz Impression gives you filters and effects based upon artists and artists tools. You can make an image look like it was drawn with pencils and crayons, charcoal or paint. There are distortions of the image and colour effects which are based upon artists such as Turner, Georgia O’Keeffe, Van Gogh, Degas and Monet. There are all sorts of controls available within the application which allow you to create your own painterly effects. You can go for something which will emulate impasto oil colours or you could go for something more delicate looking like a watercolour. I quite like the one called Liquid Lines which does weird things to the shapes within the image. I also the love the one called Psycho which does the same sort of thing but also alters the colours.

Fish basket Landscape mix Georgia

Posted in Digital Art.

Animated Text Generator In Motion 5 And Final Cut Pro X

When you are making movies for your YouTube videos it is inevitable that at some point in time you will want to include some text in your movie. Not only that, but you will also want to have animated text rather than the straightforward plain vanilla text. It is a video with moving pictures, after all so it does need movement to draw the eye, and if you animate text that is one thing you can do. It’s not going to take you long to find that you have an animated text generator available for you to use in Motion 5 and Final Cut Pro X. You can make videos for youtube look great using fancy text effects.

Make animated text effects in Motion 5 and use them in FCPX

When you are working in Final Cut Pro X you will see that there are a number of titles that are available that you view text that you can use in your YouTube videos. Some of these titles with text also include animation graphics to enhance the title for you. While you can use the built-in text effects that are available in Final Cut you will see that Final Cut is not an animated text generatoror an animated text maker. For creating text that will be animated in a way that is just perfect for your video you will need to get working in Motion 5. The good thing is that you can take a title that is provided for you in Final Cut and use that as a starting point to edit and change to make your own special creation.

Animated text effects in Motion 5 – Animated text generator

The power that is within the application Motion 5 will allow you to do all sorts of things with text, it has a number of animated text generators. You will be able to combine the choices that you can make with the various styles of text, fonts as well as fillings and outlines that you can use, but you can also use this animated text maker with other behaviour and built-in effects. To a large extent the sky is the limit with regards as to what you could create, I would recommend though that you should keep it simple with your animated texts. It is too easy to get carried away with all of the possibilities. In the end you have to realise that what you want is text that is readable and yet is also a video animation that will catch the eye of whoever is watching your video.

Using Motion 5 for animating text

Although you can do simple things like changing the colour of the text, adding outlines and choosing the font, you can also add drop shadows and even use a pixie dust effect. It is also possible to add a glow to your text there are also a number of styles that you can choose which will add already pre-combined effects which might include gradients and drop shadows. You might use animated text to make a video bug and for that uses a small bit of text which sits in the corner of your video, this is the sort of thing that you might see on the TV. TV channels like to remind you which TV channel you are watching.

Animated Text Generator in Motion 5

There are transitions that are available in Final Cut Pro also that can be added to your taste which will give it a certain amount of animation. To probably get your text moving and grooving, dancing and prancing across the screen then Motion 5 is your answer. Motion 5 is an animated text generator that you can work out completely separately or you can get to from within Final Cut Pro. When in Final Cut Pro if you right click or do a two finger tap on your trackpad you’ll see option which will open up the title in Motion. Have a look at the YouTube video to get an idea of how to get started making animated text effects to add to your video animation. In Motion 5 I used a animation text generator to have the text bounce up and down a little and then I used it in final cut pro x motion is a marvellous app.

Posted in Mac20Q.

Apple’s Photos App – Better with Extensions

Better and Easier

Having moved on from Aperture to the Apple Photos application I’m pleased to see that it is getting better and even easier to use. There were improvements to the application when El Capitan arrived and now it is improving further with extensions. It is all so nicely integrated into the application it makes it easy to use features from other applications right from within Photos. A couple of my favourite applications from the people at Macphun were already upgraded and provided extensions. I had thought that Intensify Pro should also have an extension, but there wasn’t one there yet. So I opened up the application this morning and told it to check for updates. Lo and behold, there was an update available to the latest Creative Kit version. So I did the install and then the third party extension only needed a check mark in the box in the system preferences. I use Photos a lot because I take a lot of photos and also because I work with them in applications like iColorama – Image Editor and Brushes Painter – Katerina Alieksieienko and Procreate on my iPad. All of my photos and photo art end up in the photos app.

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More updates to Photos application

I already had extensions for Noiseless, Tonality, Snapheal, BeFunky. I was surprised to see that Pixelmator had added an extension I hadn’t noticed. This morning had a play with the Distort functions added by Pixelmator and I was pleased with it. Changes made to a photo are applied and you can go back to the original at any time from within Photos. The nondestructive way that Photos and the extensions work with your images is excellent. Although Tonality and Snapheal already had added extensions there were also updates to the Creative Kit versions available this morning. The downloads didn’t work absolutely perfectly, for two of them I had to do the download twice, but we got there in the end!

Working with extensions in Photos

The fact that the work you do with the extensions is reversible, is good. However, there will be times when you want to make sure you don’t lose the work you’ve done. If you made a set of detailed changes to an image using an extension and back in Photos you use the revert to original, you will lose all of those changes you made. You might use that revert button if you decide you want to work from the original again. So that’s how you might lose the work you already have done. The way to get around this is to make a duplicate of the photo in the first instance before you make any changes to it. Or you could do the duplicate of the photo after the changes have been made and then use the revert button either of the two photos.

If you are interested in finding out more about iPad art applications here is an eBook / PDF format about iPad art. I’m working on a large ‘how to’ style ebook going into depth using my favourite iPad art books and it will on the eBooks stores soon.
Get free iPad Art Book

Posted in Mac20Q.

Magic Trackpad 2 for the Mac with Force Touch

The joys of being a Mac aficionado

I’ve only just upgraded to El Capitan and DragonDictate and now something else new. The trackpad on my iMac which is about four years old, same age as the iMac itself has been getting slightly temperamental lately. I started to notice that it wasn’t always behaving itself, maybe about six months ago, but it was a rare problem. With the new Force Touch becoming available on the Apple watch and also with the MacBooks, I guessed there might be a new Magic Trackpad at some point in time soon. I was right, and yesterday or the day before Apple came up with the goods. The new Magic Trackpad 2 is a little bit on the pricey side, but I do need to update the one I have. It’s still possible to buy the old version of the Magic Trackpad, but if I’m going to be spending some money it’s better to have the newer and much improved version. I’m trying to decide whether I will give myself a day out and go and visit an Apple Store in Barcelona or whether I should just order it online. I might have to leave it a week before making a trip to Barcelona, so that I know for sure the shop will have the new Magic trackpad 2 in stock.

Magic Trackpad 2

So many decisions to make

The thing is, I’ve been considering whether to get my hands on the new iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil to go with it. I do an awful lot of work with my iPad and some of it is digital drawing and painting. It would make great sense as well as being completely delightful to have the new iPad Pro. The problem is with the cost of it all. I can’t afford to hang onto the iPad I have as well as the iPad Pro, so that would go part of the way towards paying for the new device. The only thing I worry about is the fact that I got the new iPad Air 2 for the lightness of it and the ease of carrying it around the house. The iPad Pro is a good bit heavier as well as being larger physically, obviously. Is it going to be a little of a pain to carry around, compared to the iPad I have now. One more thing – there is also the matter of the iPhone 6+. My wife really does need to have a new iPhone and passing on the one I have now would be a good idea. The trouble is, I would have to buy myself a new phone and once again that is going to be more money. The need to upgrade the Magic Trackpad just adds another level of monetary difficulty to consider with regards the requirements for the new technology. I’d love to buy the Apple Watch for my wife too.

What does the Magic Trackpad 2 offer

For start off, the Magic Trackpad 2 is larger by about 30%. The one I have doesn’t seem small so the new one being larger is just a bonus. It doesn’t really bother me to change the rechargeable batteries, so having built-in batteries is neither here nor there. The biggest and most useful difference is going to be the addition of the Force Touch. This will give extra functionality beyond what I can already do with using the application Better Touch Tool. The Magic trackpad 2 will sense when I press harder on the device and give me extra menu options. I already like to use the extra gestures available to get to the Mission Control and App Exposé. That’s when you swipe either up or down with the four fingers. I rarely use the gesture of spreading with the thumb and three fingers to show the desktop or the pinch action to show the Launchpad, but it is nice to know they are there if I want them. I suppose when I connect the new trackpad to my iMac it will update the trackpad information in the system preferences. It will help me to learn the new force touch gestures and start to get them into muscle memory. Looks I will be getting a new Magic Trackpad 2 on my desk quite soon.

Posted in Mac20Q.

Third Party Extensions in Apple Photos App

Moving forward with Photos app on Mac OS X

I was delighted yesterday, to see some of my favourite photo applications from MacPhun have all been updated to work in Photos App as extensions. When I was an Aperture user I had this sort of capability with many of mSnaphealy applications including the favourite I used for HDR photos. With the demise of Aperture and the change to Photos App, Apple promised third parties would be able to use an extensions API letting us work with our photos easily. In Aperture, the way that worked was to follow the link through and it would open up the other application. You would all of your editing and when you clicked on save it would close and take it back into Aperture. When it did this the updated photo would be a new photo within Aperture. It all worked pretty well indeed. In Photos application you go into edit mode for a photo and at the bottom of the list you will see Extensions and a little round circle with three dots on it. Now when you click on that little icon you’ll see a list of available extensions. The ones I have now are Snapheal, Noiseless and Tonality. I have other applications from the same software developer – Intensify Pro and I expect there will be updates to those in time too.

Buy the Good and Geeky – Geek Photography book

How it works

Photos extensions

So you click on the extension you want to use and the application opens up within the same space. In the Title bar at the top of the application you will see, for example Photos – Snapheal. The menu bar at the top of the screen still shows the menus for Photos. For applications that don’t require you to use items from its own menus this will work quite nicely. All of the controls I need for Snapheal are contained within the working area of the application window.

Here I’m using Snapheal, which is amazing almost to the point of being magical in the way you can use it to remove items from within your image. It is much better than using the similar tool within Photos. The only other application that does as good a job with regards removing unwanted items in a photo that I have available on my computer is Affinity Photo.


So you’ve made all your changes, perhaps using Tonality to get a better conversion to black-and-white and you click the button – Save Changes. This takes you back into the editing mode within Photos app . At this point you can click on the yellow button for Done or you can Revert to Original. If you revert to original you will lose all of the changes you have just made. If you click on Done it takes you out of the editing mode and your photo is showing in the Photos application in its new changed state. Photos does not make a copy of the photo you are working on during this process so you can compare the previous version with the new version. If you want to do that, you’ll need to make a duplicate of the photo before you start and then go off and do your editing.

All is not lost with your photo

Even if you’ve made changes to your photos using the extensions provided by other third-party applications you can still go back to the original. You can do this at any time by going back into the edit mode with a photo you have selected. If you have made any changes to it at all you can use the Revert to Original button in the top right-hand corner next to the Done button. It all works pretty well and the only thing I’ve noticed so far is that the thumbnail for a picture I’ve made some changes to, remained as a black-and-white image even though I have changed it back. It wasn’t a problem as all I needed to do to fix it, was to change the view in the application. After that it began to show with the correct thumbnail image.

A great way of working with Photos

I like the way this works in the Photos App in El Capitan. It gives me another reason not to miss using Aperture. We were able to get the benefit from our third-party applications directly from within Photos. There will be one or two professionals who will still feel the need for applications like Aperture or Lightroom and that’s fair enough. For what I do with my photos and for most users we’re going to be very happy with what we can do with Apples Photos app.

Apple Photos App

Posted in Mac20Q.

Upgrading to El Capitan and Dragon For Mac 5

Today is a day for upgrading

El Capitan is going to be available today, but I don’t think I’m going to get updates because already have the gold master version of the operating system on my iMac. I’ve had El Capitan on the Mac for a week or so now and it doesn’t seem hugely different. I have only just got around to trying out the split screen view which I wasn’t too bothered about because I was using an application called Cinch which was doing the job for me.
IMG 1487
Dragon fo Mac 5

Dragon for Mac 5 is working fine

The main thing for me is that I can use my DragonDictate / Dragon for Mac 5. That speech to text dictation application is working as well as it is expected to work in the first iteration of the new version 5. There haven’t been any problems with any other applications either. As I was writing this there’s been an update to the Dragon for Mac 5 app and it claims to fix the problems we’ve experienced in the new app and makes it El Capitan compatible.

I will to do the El Capitan update on my wife’s computer. She doesn’t particularly like updates as they change the way things work but it will have to be done anyway. Maybe I won’t even tell her and she won’t even notice. She would be more likely to notice of the work big changes in the Keynote presentation software.

Notes could be used for journalling

So far I’ve not given much time for the new Notes application as I tend to use other applications for keeping my notes and I prefer to use something that does plain text. I don’t really need something that does rich text. For somebody who doesn’t want to spend any money on an application for journalling the notification could be quite a good option. You could use Text Expander to automatically put dates in. The application is good for adding photos and you can even do little drawings which could be something quite nice in a journal. I’ll be sticking to Day One but Notes does work across devices in the same way so you can keep up-to-date with your journal over on iOS and everything will sink across to your Mac.

Notes in El Capitan

Posted in Mac20Q.

Using Day One

Ignore technology or embrace it?

I’ve started with trying to get the best from tech with my Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad and desktop computer and going down the good and geeky route of recording my life. How do you see it all going down for you? Will you ignore it or embrace it?


Day One (Journal / Notes / Diary)

Posted in Mac20Q.

Dragon for Mac is the new DragonDictate

Updating to the latest version

Dragon for Mac Dictate edit and transcribe anywhere all by voice Nuance
When you use an application all of the time, it’s only natural you want to keep up-to-date and have the latest and greatest version of that app. So when DragonDictate informed me a new version was available, I upgraded straightaway. As often happens with these applications, it is a case of two steps forward and one step back. Some things get better and some things take a step backwards. Sometimes it’s not just a case of things being better or worse, it is just that they are different. DragonDictate is now set up where it expects you to dictate into whichever application you are using and doesn’t give you a text document to work in, as was the case with DragonDictate 4.5. All of the application has moved into a menubar icon which is quite handy in many ways, having it all in one place. On the other hand, when I had menus I could access a working text file that always worked well with DragonDictate. My workflow was to do all of my dictation into that DragonDictate text document and to copy and paste it into whichever other text editor when I was ready to do the editing. Part of the reason for doing this was that the application would work okay for a while in other applications before giving me a few niggling little problems. DragonDictate would add a random letter to the end of my dictation text which would keep coming back even after I had deleted it. It would also lose its place in the text and not know where all of the words dictated were. This became a problem if I wanted to go back and do verbal editing of the dictation so far. Now I have to find out which of my text based applications are going to be best for using with DragonDictate. I have tried out NVAlt and I have also tried using Byword and I wasn’t particularly happy with either of those for dictation. I am dictating this into Scrivener and after 345 words everything is working fine, so I will be keeping my fingers crossed. If this works out, I will be quite pleased to use Scrivener as my go to document for dictation for all of my writing.

What are the improvements?

Dictate Status Window and Record a Life Capture local customs
I’m already finding that the word recognition of the speech engine for DragonDictate, Dragon for Mac 5 is both more accurate and faster. This is the main thing that we use Dragon Dictate for and therefore is something to be happy about. The little window that is the status window has more information and is redesigned to suit the latest version of OS X. The new status window is prettier and more configurable. In the previous version there was a separate window to show you what you had just converted into text from your voice and now you see all in the one window. There are little icons you can use to show or hide guidance. You might use this to begin with when you’re getting used to use the application. This is where you get the hints of what you can do with Dragon for Mac 5. It says “What can I say?” Followed by some suggestions with how to capitalise words, delete words, select words and how to pause the microphone. I think the command for pausing the microphone is a new one and it’s handy to have the microphone still listening so you can use the command to wake it up again with your voice. What I used to do previously, was to voice switch the microphone off, but then I would have to use a non-voice command, such as a Better Touch Tool gesture I have programmed for the Magic Trackpad. That worked very well, but it is quite nice to just tell the microphone to wake up.

What are the niggling little problems?

After about half an hour of using the application, it crashed. Crashes happen from time to time with software, but it would have been nice if it could have lasted longer than 30 minutes. The application automatically created an email containing the crash details to send off to Nuance. I added some notes to the top of the email to let them know about the other problems I’d been having with the new version of DragonDictate.

When you are dictating into DragonDictate it shows you a selection of options for the words you have just said. So this is where you can say choose or edit plus a number. You say the word ‘choose’ plus the number for the selection you want to change to. You say ‘edit’ plus the number and you can alter and then use whatever you have just edited. In this new version of Dragon for Mac 5 sometimes the choices pop up for a second, or even just a split second before disappearing. This is something that will have to be fixed, and the sooner the better! Sometimes this information works properly and sometimes it doesn’t. It was working for the first half of me using DragonDictate to create this article, but now it is broken.

I’m now 837 words into this document and the problem I had before in the previous version with an extra letter being added to the end has just happened again. I would have hoped this was fixed in this new version. It is a problem having this extra letter unnecessarily tacked upon the end because when I give the command to go to the end of the text, the cursor goes after the letter. This then causes problems with anything dictated after that. Only happens in Non Dragon apps, in the Dragon text document it always behaved itself.

Dragon Anywhere

Dragon Anywhere Professional grade dictation app for mobile professionals NuanceOne of the new features of Dragon for Mac is the companion app which will be available to use on iOS as well as other platforms. We will be able to synchronise our wordlists, auto texts and Dragon commands from one device to another. If you add specialised words to your user dictionary they will also be available on your other devices. The application Dragon Anywhere is not available yet, but should be available soon. I expect I will do a review of Dragon Anywhere as used on iOS as soon as it becomes available.

Paying to be a beta tester for Nuance

The application Dragon for Mac is not a cheap application, but is well worth the money if you do a lot of writing. I certainly have had my money’s worth from the application over the three or four years I’ve been using it. I have updated from the original version I bought, a couple of times. Generally the application gets better with each update and you don’t mind paying for good software that does a good job. The lesson to be learned with this latest version of Dragon for Mac 5, and also with previous upgrades, is that it can be better to wait for a month or two and let somebody else do the paid beta testing.

Despite my complaining about the niggling things that are not working or things that have changed in this new version, I’m still happy to see the new DragonDictate.

The information mode in the Dragon for Mac window is once again working even though I haven’t touched any of the controls since it stopped working a few minutes ago. I’ll have to just be vigilant and use a few workarounds until there is an update to fix the problems. I’ve just tried using the choose command to select one of the options from the information window and it didn’t work.

Posted in Mac20Q.
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